Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0027093, Sun, 3 Jul 2016 11:16:33 -0300

RES: [NABOKV-L] RES: [NABOKV-L] Two substantive entries in the
Index of Pale Fire - Query
Bob Fagen: Vera Nabokov's mother was Slava Borisovna Feigin, a distant relative of mine -- a meaningless coincidence, but I thought I'd mention it. The near-anagram (feigned; Feigin) must surely have occurred to Nabokov, if not to Kinbote, Shade and company. "D. Feigin" is, of course, Darya Konstantinovna Feigin, prima ballerina assoluta of the Grey Star Ballet (not in index) and the best Clara ever. Eat your hearts out, little piranhas."

Jansy Mello: Hey, Bob Fagen! Just a small observation: avoid addressing any Brazilian woman by "piranha," unless you mean it ;>)

Now moving onto something else. After questioning VN's putative coinage of "tintarron", there's one other word I'd like to check with the List. VN often employs French words in his novels but his inventions are sometimes derivations (nymphet/nymphette; racemose/racemosa). I wonder if "coeur de boeuf" is another such instance: in ADA, without explaining it thru Darkbloom, VN employs the word "oeil-de-boeuf." However, there is an entry in "Darkbloom's notes" for the "bull's heart" (not "eye"), as if this "variation" in meaning wouldn't be found in any ordinary dic. (Cf. p.217. coeur de boeuf: bull’s heart (in shape).) In PF the stress is laid on the surname "Shalksbore" but "Curdy Buff" is also mentioned in CK's "Index."

"fumbling frantically at his fly. In all his life, said stolid Greg to Van, he had never seen such an ugly engine, surgically circumcised, terrifically oversized and high-colored, with such a phenomenal coeur de boeuf; nor had either of the fascinated, fastidious boys ever witnessed the like of its sustained, strongly arched, practically everlasting stream."

BB AdaOnline: 274.26 <http://www.ada.auckland.ac.nz/ada139.htm> : coeur de boeuf: Darkbloom: “bull’s heart (in shape)” (French). Here the expression refers to the shape of Percy’s glans, with some of the image source’s size and high color also carrying over to the image’s target. Cf. PF 208, “a phenomenally endowed young brute . . . Curdy Buff.”

Brian notes the link between ADA and PF through a "coeur de boeuf" metamorphed into "Curdy Buff." The other word in French, related to a bull's eye, or "an ox-eye window" indicates a small oval overture that is most often found in second or third storeys, or in turrets:

"I do not remember what Les Enfants Maudits did or said in Monparnasse’s novelette — they lived in Bryant’s château, I think, and it began with bats flying one by one out of a turret’s œil-de-bœuf into the sunset, but these children (whom the novelettist did not really know — a delicious point) might also have been filmed rather entertainingly had snoopy Kim, the kitchen photo-fiend, possessed the necessary apparatus."(ADA)

(PF) A message from the Karlists containing these simple considerations checked her progress in Stockholm, and she flew back to her perch in a mood of frustration and fury (mainly, I think, because the message had been conveyed to her by a cousin of hers, good old Curdy Buff, whom she loathed). PF, note to lines 433-334.

He succumbed to them from time to time, then every other day, then several times daily — especially during the robust regime of Harfar Baron of Shalksbore, a phenomenally endowed young brute (whose family name, "knave’s farm," is the most probable derivation of "Shakespeare"). Curdy Buff — as Harfar was nicknamed by his admirers — had a huge escort of acrobats and bareback riders, and the whole affair rather got out of hand so that Disa, upon unexpectedly returning from a trip to Sweden, found the Palace transformed into a circus.(idem).

Index: Shalksbore, Baron Harfar, known as Curdy Buff, b. 1921, man of fashion and Zemblan patriot, 433.

The word "coeur-de-boeuf", in its accepted usage, indicates heart-shaped tomatoes. An "oeil-de-boeuf" is also the word that was employed for a rare Brazilian stamp.

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